res ipsa loquitur

BBC: "Faking it as a priest in Japan"

The BBC reports on gaijin acting as "priests" in Japanese wedding ceremonies:

"I was living in Sapporo, studying Japanese, and I needed the money. It's far better paid than teaching in a language school," he said.

"Being a fake priest is big business in Japan - I've done a TV commercial for one company," he added. "In Sapporo, there are five agencies employing about 20 fake priests. In a city like Tokyo, there must be hundreds."

The fake Western priests are employed at Western-style weddings to give a performance and add to the atmosphere. These are not legal ceremonies - the couples also have to make a trip to the local registrar.

Mother's voice gets more attention than alarm tones

CNN reports on a study showing that sleeping children awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices more quickly and more often than to a beeping smoke alarm.

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying "(Child's first name)! (Child's first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn't wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children's Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

'Intersex' fish found in Potomac

LiveScience reports that “intersex" fish, with both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River and its tributaries. This of course raises questions about how whatever contaminants are causing this, will affect the people who drink tap water.

Last month's testing at three tributaries emptying into the Potomac revealed that more than 80 percent of all male smallmouth bass found were growing eggs, according to Vicki S. Blazer, a fish pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

SubGenius in trouble: "Why a goat?"

When I'm at Starwood, I always make it a point to attend the Reverend
Ivan Stang's "rants", always entertaining and thought-provoking. This time,
though, Ivan had a story to tell that was more frightening.

It seems that a lovely SubGenius
lass, Reverend Magdalen, is stuck in a custody battle with her ex over
their young son. Ok, sad, but common. What's uncommon is that the ex used
photos of her from the SubGenius's "X Day" celebration (held at the
Brushwood Folklore Center, same location as Starwood).

Parker Brothers' whores for Visa in new Monopoly version

Ars Technica reports that the "venerable board game Monopoly has been given an electronic European makeover. Capitalist robber barons in the UK will now have the option of making a cashless fortune thanks to a new version of the game that features an electronic card from Visa instead of paper money." They report that this seems to tie in with a Visa advertizing

state of the union

So just how are we doing on the land of the free these days? Let's see:

First, The Boston Globe reported on Bush the Second's assertions that he can ignore more than 750 laws, laws he himself signed, including military rules, affirmative-action law provisions, requirements to report to Congress about immigration services problems, nuclear regulatory whistle-blower protections, and laws against political interference in research.

The Globe notes that W is the first president in modern history to never veto a bill, thus making him immune from veto-overrides; instead, he signs them and then quietly files "signing statements" in the federal register, in which he lays out his "legal interpretation" of the bill. These often assert that the president has the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- including provisions negotiated with Congress in order to get the bills passed in the first place.

Happy Yuri's Night!

April 12th is the 45th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight. In 1961 he made a single orbit in a flight lasting 108 minutes, becoming the first human being in space.

I'm celebrating with a beer at a bar in Fell's Point, but all over the world more organized celebrations are taking place. (Even on Antarctica!)

Looking up at the full moon in the clear spring sky, I think of how at liftoff, Yuri shouted, "Poyekhali!" - "Let's go!" Here's hoping we, as a species, do.

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